Barking Dogs and Croaking Toads
The next morning found Sango outside watching Miroku watching the early training of Sesshomaru’s troops. She found his flirtation with lady Shi almost amusing now, neither of them ever seeming to be the least bit serious in their attentions to each other. However, the way that he studied the ebony haired general troubled her, wondering if he would truly be taken from her this time. She hated the confusion that wound its way throughout her mind, still believing that she did not wish to suffer the loss of another, nor have the monk suffer her loss; but it stung watching him so captivated by another.
Shikyomi appeared beside her, startling the slayer. “That is an interesting sight.” She commented, grinning. “He has his work cut out for him if he’s aiming at that one.”
“Does it bother you? I thought you and Miroku had….” She paused, searching for the correct phrase to use “..something.” Her hands unconsciously ran over the weapon of bone she was polishing.
“He is a great friend, playful and wicked. He is very like the inuyokai in a way.” She said with pride. “Not to say I would turn away his comfort on a cold, lonely night, but it is a friendly sort of comfort, not the consuming kind. This one has no reason to be jealous over him.”
“Are the inu capable of jealousy then?” Sango asked, looking away from where Miroku was being ignored by the object of his attraction as she moved among the solders she was training.
“You doubt it?” Shi laughed, “We are extreme in everything. Our version of jealousy usually involves bloodshed. That is why entering into an existing mating pair is difficult. There are many rules that you have to follow out of respect, if one were to just try to take one of the pair for their own, they would very probably die.” Lady Death gazed out over her people fondly. “Had we not been in middle of war, how different my son’s lives would have been.”
“You agreed for him to be with Izayoi? I thought that was why Sesshomaru disliked Inuyasha so much, because of his father loving her.”
Shikyomi sighed. “That was a common misconception then. Touga had told me of Izayoi, how he had fallen in love before he even knew he had tripped. That is a rare thing, how could I possibly deny him a chance just because there was a life long war going on and this one could not go to meet her. We broke a few rules, but they only involved us, so we did not see the harm. Had we a chance to do it again, this one would still have had him go to her and protect our son. The only thing that this one regrets is not forcing her to come to the western castle when he left us, but we were both grieving, so I allowed her to remain with her family. She would have hated this one at first, but in time, would have seen wisdom in the decision.”
Sango shook her head, looking back over the field. There was no more sign of Miroku, only many blue and white flashes of the western army’s armor standing out brightly in the morning fog that waited for the sun to lift it to the sky. “You are strange,” she said, glancing back at the inu’s face, “And scary” she added, making the lady’s laughter stretch across the field to blend with the clash of swords.
Murmurs, soft and intriguing called to her curiosity, making Shikyomi glad she had chosen to come up a rarely used hallway of the palace. It was a random thing she used to do, so that in the event of an emergency, she was never lost within her own walls. The deep timbre of a male, followed by the smug, cloying sweetness of a feminine tone reached her powerful ears. It did not take her long to track the scent of those fools hidden away from sight and they were saying the most interesting things.
Lady Death leaned against the wall of the room where the couple sat on the other side, completely unware of the danger they were in. A cruel and vicious smile spread across her red mouth, how tempting it was to just tear them apart where they stood, but she was positive her son would not wish for her to. Some things were best done publicly after all. When the words stop and other noises began, she silently left heading for the western lord with a new and interesting tale.
“Are you ready yet?” Inuyasha asked, not able to sound as irritated as when he used to make that statement. Still, Kagome glared at him from where she stood adjusting her clothing. He wanted to smile at the familiar expression, but managed not to, not wanting to doge flying objects.
“It’s not my fault your children have growth spurts at night!” she grumbled, her stomach more noticeable than it had been the day before, Kagome would have sworn to it. Luckily, lady Kogirei, or lady Kei as the children dubbed her, had found some looser clothing for her in shades of blue and white, along with some dark pink blossoms. It was made of the softest silk and sat very lightly upon her, which she was grateful for because she often felt weighed down. She made a lovely picture of feminine beauty, her long, dark hair falling in waves to her waist and blue eyes sparkling with irritation.
He grinned, unable to stop it any longer. Their children, the statement awed and amazed him every time, along with a little terror. It was a feeling unlike any other and Inuyasha savored it. Kagome rolled her eyes and stomped passed him, all the while muttering about the perversities of the inuyokai, much to his amusement.
They slowly made their way through the grand halls, careful in the unfamiliar setting. Kagome had not seem much of the palace, Sesshomaru having so quickly carried her off to rest. Much of what she saw was beautiful, the lords colors of white, blue, and yellow used more often than not in the more public area’s leaving little doubt who ruled there. They turned down a smaller corridor, done simply in cream with blue trim. It was also slightly dimmer, lacking windows to lighten it.
As they approached their destination, they saw Shikyomi slip from Sesshomaru’s den, the smile she wore slightly disturbing. The lady just waved at them and headed away. “She is up to something.” Kagome said as the reached the door.
“She is always up to something” Inuyasha replied, sliding the door open and letting her step inside. “I would be more worried if she were trying to look innocent.”
Sesshomaru smirked, having heard them, knowing exactly to whom they were referring. His mother had brought him interesting news. He had yet to decide how he would deal with the situation, however it would make this morning’s council meeting a lot less boring.
Looking over his mates, a sense of pride filled him. Inuyasha had dressed as he normally did, in his favorite red fire rat clothing. Most others would have tried to gain favor by changing the way they appeared. Kagome also looked healthier than the day before, the pale tiredness absent from her skin. He also noticed that she had grown more, the curving of her stomach now obvious, bringing him a certain sort of satisfaction. “We have much to discuss.” He told them.
Kagome picked up on the coldness of his expression when he spoke. “What is going on?” she asked, walking to his side. She had not seen him look this serious since Hisuhebi’s last attack.
“We are to be challenged for the right to rule.” Sesshomaru said simply, “they do not openly face us but plot with the ridiculous notion that they can beat this one that way.”
“I hope they put up a good effort.” Inyuasha said offhandedly, “I was getting bored.” His fingers curled around the hilt of his sword as he grinned at Kagome’s glare. He caught his brother’s brief echoing smirk before a sound echoing down the hall made all of them groan in their own way.
“MMMYYY LLLOOORRRDDDD SESSHOMARUUUU!!!!” The high squeal bounced off the walls, making Inuyasha wince. The door swung back, revealing the small green imp. “You have returned!” He stopped mid step when he saw who resided in the room with his beloved lord, looking like he had run into a glass wall.
A bit of Shi’s mischievousness seemed to find its way to Kagome because she could not stop herself from leaning down and kissing Sesshomaru, the touch long and lingering. She felt his amusement as she smiled down at him. “We will have to discuss this later, lord husband, I feel the need for target practice suddenly.” Kagome also gave Inuyasha a quick kiss before walking calmly out the door, leaving them to the stunned Jakan and the sound of Inuyasha’s roaring laughter as the imp fell backwards in shock.
Lady Kogirei walked down the busy side hall where servants traveled to accomplish their jobs quickly without running over the nobles. She caught sight of Hokoru ducking into an alcove as if the children were chasing him. Again, she thought, fondness for her wards curving her lips. Drawn by curiosity, she meandered her way to his hideaway and slipped inside, making the inu jump a little. “Out to play today, little pup?” She asked teasingly.
His purple eyes begged her for silence before his stodginess made him straiten, Hokoru’s usual grumpy expression falling into place. Before she could question him, a lady of the council stopped just in front of their hiding spot, her red eyes scanning the crowd as she ran her hands down her dark chocolate colored hair. She fixated on their darkened corner before taking a step in their direction. Taking pity on the poor hunted man, Kei stepped out, grabbing a blanket off one of the many shelves as she went. “Lady Onkou, how strange to see you here. Does your master require anything?”
“Lady Kogieri.” The distain in her voice was evident the white vixen, much to her amusement. “He does not. I needed to speak with lord Hokoru on personal matters. Have you seen him?”
“Old grumpy?” Kei chuckled remembering the many reasons why he did usually avoid her corridor, “he is not fond of this hall, it is more my domain.” Her green eyes gleamed with wickedness, “you will have to excuse me, I must get this blanket to lady Rin, just have not the time to help you try to catch a man you cannot keep hold of.” With that she walked away, nearly laughing at the prolonged hiss behind her and the stomping of feet as the lady angrily left the hall. In her humor she missed the copper haired inu watching her as she walked away.
The morning sun lit the inner courtyard, the sakura trees casting shadows upon the two women resting beneath them. Close by there was a small pile of debris where Kagome, true to her word, demolished several targets in the guise of practice. Sango had joined her, highly amused at the tale of the imps return.
“What a lovely sight on this fine morning.” Miroku smiled with charming affection at them. “My darling Sango, I have come to be your escort.” He bowed slightly before her, eyes sparkling.
“I am amazed that you managed to pull yourself away from Sesshomaru’s general long enough to remember.” She muttered.
“Don’t be jealous, sweet. I was merely admiring her fierce grace and beauty from afar. She does remind you a lot of Sesshomaru in her manner, it’s kind of fascinating.”
“I didn’t know you were so hung up on Sesshomaru, monk.” Inuyasha said dropping down from one of the tree’s to stand beside Kagome.
“Ah,” Miroku sighed, dramatically placing his hand over his heart, “Jealousy abounds. Have no fear, my friend, were I to chase after a man, it would most assuredly be you alone.” He batted his eye lashes at the inu, making Kagome laugh.
“Knock it off, letch.” Inuyasha grumbled before looking down at his grinning mate. “Should you be sitting like that Kagome?” He asked worried about her being on the hard ground for too long.
“The sitting part is fine.” She giggled slightly still tickled at their teasing, “But getting up may be a problem.”
Before Inuyasha could offer to help her, Miroku was bent before her, gallantly holding out his hand. “I would gladly offer my assistance to you, fair lady.” Out of nowhere, a screaming Jakan came flying at him, crashing into the monk, knocking him off his feet. He landed right in front of Sango who shook her head, amused despite herself.
“My perfection, we should not through faithful servants.” Lady Shi scolded playfully as her and Sesshomaru came into view. He did not reply at all as he and Inuyasha helped a highly entertained Kagome off the soft grass.
Sango helped Miroku up good naturedly and they took their places behind lady Shikyomi, being of lowest rank in Sesshomaru’s pack. The only ones that would be absent from the meeting were Katsumi and the children. They made their way as a group to the council room where the lord would normally govern the packs of the west via the council members, the alphas of the packs.
“Were we not going to insist that lord Sesshomaru take a mate from one of the packs or lady Tsuyoi at very least…”The sensitive ears of the inuyokai heard the irritating howls of one such member long before they reached the closed doors. “It is a disgrace to suddenly mate his abandoned half-brother and some human priestess.” Jakan slid the door open, revealing the last of the great houses of the inuyoki and silence filled the room.
Kagome was unimpressed by the speaker, still standing to the side of the raised dais as he addressed the room. He had dull yellow eyes and hair, reminding her of a bad bleach blonde from her time. Sesshomaru walked in his normal manner, as if he had not even noticed the one who spoke. Kagome remained at his side, taking from his example, though she would have loved to have purified him, just a little. Inuyasha just smirked and kept going, thinking like he gave a shit what some fool he did not even know though about him. The three did not even pause when Shikyomi took one hand and threw the inu back, knocking him out cold as he hit, the wall shaking from the impact, then settling as he slid down it.
Sesshomaru took his seat, Kagome sitting beside him as the alpha female of their pack. Inuyasha stood to his left and Shikyomi stood to her right as the top betas. When they had settled a tall inuyokai with black hair and eyes stood up. “Congratulations on your heirs, lord Sesshomaru.” He said respectfully before retaking his seat.
Sesshomaru nodded his head, acknowledging him. Lord Rengou had been a friend of his fathers, though he and Sesshomaru were actually not that far apart in age. It was the inu’s way of telling him he was still with him. Most of the others had not even noticed that Kagome was carrying. It had been too long since the council had been to war, they had forgotten how to use their noses. He highly preferred his soldiers to the council. When the snake was no more, Sesshomaru intended to travel once again, this time to study the packs and their structure. Hopefully the future generation would show more promise than most of those before them.
“It is ok then, to throw politicians, but not servants?” Kagome asked Shi, curiously looking up at her, remembering her earlier comment to her mate.
“Of course, my dear. Faithful servants are a lot quieter, a lot more useful, and never forget the purpose behind the job that they are doing.” She grinned at those in the room, causing several noticeable shivers, “politicians do, however, make great chew toys.”
“I see the lady Shikyomi has not changed in her years away from us.” Came a cool voice from the middle right of the room. “Should you not be at your son’s side, I very much doubt the priestess out ranks you.” His dark brown eyes were cool and calculating, his dark red hair marking him as having a connection to the great houses.
“This one would not place herself above a bride, the strongest since the lotus, which has graced our house by choice.” Her smile turned sickly pleasant at the gasps in the room. A bride had become a myth among the yokai, having been lost to them for so long. “Feel free, lord Kidotta, to see if you can withstand her purifying touch, this one is sure to be amused by it.”
The man’s eyes narrowed but he made no farther comment. Lord Hokoru came to the foot of the dais, waiting patiently for lord Sesshomaru’s nod to begin. “Mother,” Sesshomaru asked in a cool, off handed tone, “are you done playing with this one’s council?” Coldly reminding those around them who ruled them.
“As you wish it, my son.” She replied, relaxing by throwing an arm over the head of Kagome’s thrown, visibly leaving little doubt that she had the protection of lady Death. Inuyasha propped his back against the side of Sesshomaru’s, looking extremely bored with the process already, though watching his den mother had been fun, his had gently resting on Tetsusaigia’s hilt.The lord Sesshomaru nodded slightly at his trusted council herald. Lord Hokoru turned to the room of less than twenty. “Now begins the meeting of the high council of the inuyokai. You may come and present your reports and requests to my lords and lady.” With that, he allowed the first council member to approach, beginning what Inuyasha would describe as the most boring, wasted hours of his entire life.